Gauging Student Learning Through Surveys

by: Andreas Broscheid

may_symposiumAt the end of every semester we want to – or are required to – find out how successful our classes were. Final papers, project reports, and exams are part of determining whether students achieved the goals we set for them, and student course evaluations give students the opportunity for class feedback (tune in James Brown’s “Payback”). All of these ways to evaluate our courses are important, but they’re not without limitations. Final exams, taken at a time when students are tired from studying and mentally already out at the beach or on the slopes, are unlikely to represent the most valid picture of what students know. Furthermore, usually there are no final exam pre-tests at the beginning of the semester that let us gauge whether student knowledge increased throughout the semester.

Knowledge surveys are an interesting addition to the toolbox that we use to find out whether students learn in our classes. Students are asked how much they know about various course objectives at the beginning and at the end of the semester, and the responses help us understand what (and to what extent) students think they have learned in the class. Steven Harper of JMU’s School of Engineering has developed a sophisticated way of conducting and using knowledge surveys, which he is presenting in a hands-on workshop during the upcoming May Symposium.

You can still sign up.

Leave a Reply